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Editorial |

Transnational Comparisons of Adolescent Contraceptive Use What Can We Learn From These Comparisons?

John Santelli, MD, MPH; Theo Sandfort, PhD; Mark Orr, PhD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(1):92-94. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2007.28.
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Population-based behavioral surveillance is an essential public health activity for monitoring the health of adolescents.1,2 These surveys—often conducted by government scientists, virtually always with government support—provide critical data on behaviors as diverse as drug and alcohol use, suicidal intentions, sexual behavior, diet and nutrition, and dental hygiene. Similar surveys monitor adult health. Such data can be used to assess health risks among youth, to plan prevention programs, to measure trends over time, and to evaluate the impact of prevention programs. United States–based pediatricians and adolescent health providers are very familiar with the Youth Risk Behavioral Survey (YRBS), which tracks health risk behaviors among high school students for the nation and many states and cities.3 For example, YRBS data have been used to explain recent declines in teenage pregnancy and human immunodeficiency virus risk4,5 and to understand risk factors for adolescent alcohol and drug use.6,7 Similar surveys have been used around the globe in rich and poor countries to monitor health.810

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